Says they are ‘pursuing someone else’s agenda’
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday, while hearing a case on the Dadhocha dam, lashed out at critics opposing the construction of dams in the country, saying that they were pursuing “someone else’s agenda”.
The CJP, recalling a scientist’s remark that the Supreme Court should form its own political party, said: “There is no need for anyone to say this. It is a matter of fundamental rights.”
Justice Nisar said that dams were being constructed for Pakistan’s future generations. He added that there would be “no compromise on this issue”, whether those criticising the move were “well-known scientists or political leaders”. He claimed that those opposing the construction of dams are “working on someone else’s agenda, and the agenda is that ‘dams shouldn’t be built in Pakistan’.”
“We won’t let the agenda to not build dams be successful.” the CJP said. “We will build dams under all circumstances.”
The CJP, who was heading a three-judge bench, made the remarks during a case pertaining to land earmarked for the construction of the Dadhocha dam.
In 2006, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) had purchased 18,000 kanals at the site where the dam was to be built and launched a housing scheme as a joint venture with Bahria Town. The DHA Valley scheme, meant for the bereaved families of martyred military personnel, was proposed the dam site.
On Aug 4, 2015, the SC in a suo motu case directed the Punjab government to construct the dam at the originally proposed site. Soon after these directives, the government banned the sale and purchase of land in the area and allocated funds for the construction of the dam in its annual development plan for 2017-18.
On the SC’s directives, the Punjab government in 2017 initiated the process to construct the dam at a cost of Rs7 billion to overcome the water shortage in Rawalpindi.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had previously initiated investigations against DHA Islamabad, Bahria Town and Capital Development Authority administrations for the Rs62 billion DHA Valley project and its Phase-II (extension) scams.
In today’s hearing, the court asked the Punjab government to examine the DHA-Bahria joint venture, and asked the JV to present its recommendations on the matter to the provincial government. The SC also asked the Punjab government to examine the Irrigation Department’s recommendations and, if it is not satisfied with them, to inform the court and present its own recommendations.
The Punjab government was asked to inform the court of when the dam would be completed by and how much expense would be incurred during its construction.
The Punjab Irrigation Department secretary told the court that the provincial government had allocated funds for the acquisition of land for the dam. He added that the Bahria Town-DHA JV was proposed on an 11-kanal site.
The Chief Justice asked what obstacles the Punjab government was facing in the construction of the dam by Bahria Town, and added: “I know that commission mafia’s, commission will be cut and this is the obstacle.”
“I won’t let anyone take any cuts, nor will I let them appropriate commission,” he asserted.
The top judge said that the commission mafia should fear God, and that the dam project was under strain because of this commission mafia. He asked them, without naming them, to think about themselves, the country and the future of its citizens.
The CJP suggested the secretary call the Punjab chief minister and his cabinet regarding the issue, to which the secretary responded that there was no need for it since he was looking over it. The CJP responded that the construction of dam is a national cause and they would need to “come together for it”.
Justice Nisar told the secretary that he should be giving money instead of taking money, to which the secretary responded that he had already contributed money to the Dam Fund. The hearing was postponed till next week.